Hurricanes stick with Mrazek, but face Game 3 decision in goal

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Boston’s Connor Clifton (75) celebrates with teammate Danton Heinen (43) after scoring on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek (34) in the second period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

Boston’s Connor Clifton (75) celebrates with teammate Danton Heinen (43) after scoring on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek (34) in the second period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

Petr Mrazek came out to start the third period even with the Carolina Hurricanes down four goals and struggling. If that was supposed to show confidence in the goalie, it backfired: five minutes into the third period, Mrazek had given up two more goals to the Boston Bruins.

“We talked about it,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, “but he doesn’t want to come out. He’s a battler. A lot of other guys on the bench deserve to come out, if that’s how we’re doing it.”

Sunday’s 6-2 loss raised a number of questions for the Hurricanes, but goaltending may be the most pressing. Brind’Amour chose not to get Curtis McElhinney 20 minutes of work Sunday ahead of a potential Game 3 start, and there’s a decision to be made. Mrazek gave up 20 goals in his first nine playoff appearances and 10 in the two games against the Bruins, coming off a two-game injury absence after exiting Game 3 of the second-round series against the New York Islanders.

“I’m feeling good, no issue with that,” Mrazek said. “I don’t think it was that long a break, maybe nine or 10 days. I was feeling pretty good. I’m not going to look past, just look forward to the next one.”

The Bruins’ first goal, under Mrazek’s right arm, seemed to put the Hurricanes on their heels and they never really recovered. Mrazek ended up allowing the six goals on only 25 shots.

“I wasn’t happy about the first goal,” Mrazek said. “Honestly I have to have that. I knew it went through me.”

BIG HIT Micheal Ferland, in his second game back after missing eight games, delivered a massive early hit on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in front of the Boston bench.

“I had a couple big hits and after that I felt perfectly fine,” Ferland said. “The biggest thing for me is getting used to the pace of play. Then I can make some big hits.”

FINNISH FINISH The Hurricanes’ second goal was gifted to them by otherwise all-but-impenetrable goalie Tuukka Rask, who misplayed a puck directly into the path of Teuvo Teravainen.

“I need to buy beers for Tuukka,” Teravainen told Finnish reporter Tommi Seppala.

“I’m going to take that beer,” Rask responded.

FROM BEHIND With Thursday’s Game 1 loss, the Hurricanes fell behind 1-0 for the eighth time in their past 12 playoff series, but they won six of the previous seven dating back to the 2002 Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In two of those six, they lost Game 2 as well. In four of those six, they won Game 2, including the 2009 second-round series with the Bruins.

“We still confident we can win at home,” Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said. “We’re going to go in that building and do what we do best and give it all we’ve got and try to find a way to get a win and move forward.”

BACKING HIS BROTHER The Canes’ Andrei Svechnikov again will have more family support this week for the two Eastern Conference finals games in Raleigh — big brother Evgeny will be back at PNC Arena.

Evgeny Svechnikov, 22, is a former first-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings and missed all of this season following knee surgery. The forward has played 16 career NHL games for the Wings, spending much of his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.

Andrei said Evgeny attended the two playoff games against the New York Islanders in Raleigh and was all-in.

“After the games he wanted to know everything about it,” Svechnikov said. “He wants to play, too, in the playoffs one day.”

Andrei said his brother admits to being “a little bit nervous” during the games and has gotten into the excitement of the moment, saying, “He said when we score and the crowd jumps, he jumps, too.”

And when Andrei gets hit, especially a borderline hit?

“He gets angry,” Svechnikov said. “Of course. He’s my older brother. He’ll always be that way for me.”

TAILWINDS The Hurricanes are 4-0 when scoring first, 4-5 when their opponent scores first. … Patrice Bergeron has scored as many power-play goals in the playoffs (5) as the entire Hurricanes roster (5). … With his third-period goal, Justin Wililams moved into seventh in Hurricanes career playoff scoring, passing Matt Cullen. He’s one point behind Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman for fifth. … Sebastian Aho’s three-game goal streak came to an end.

Staff writer Chip Alexander contributed to this report

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.